BY SAJIDA AYYUP
The team behind BookCon hosted a live book reading session on their Facebook group on Saturday with more than 30 authors, an average of 140 attendees at any given time, and over 5000 views in total. Read-A-Thon is a first of its kind, as the team said, but we think it’s just the beginning.
On a mission to save indie bookstores, the team planned this session with multi-genre writers to kickstart a live fundraiser where viewers could donate to Book Industry Charitable Foundation’s (BINC) Save Indie Bookstores Campaign. Pamela French, executive director of BINC, joined the housekeeping bits at Read-A-Thon to share how COVID-19 has affected bookstores. The organization focuses on helping the book industry employees survive accidents, unfortunate events and, in this case, a global pandemic. “Over the last four weeks, we have witnessed the book industry move into action quickly,” she said. From mid-March this year, it has received over 627 applications for assistance from booksellers who have lost their jobs. Overall, French said the team was able to save close to 270 families who were directly affected due to the pandemic. And yesterday, the average number of incoming applications per day was 20, she said.
The eight-hour long reading session brought writers from different cities to read an excerpt from their latest novels, some of which have already hit the bookstores. Interesting questions in the comments made the session more insightful. Lamar Giles, author of Not So Pure and Simple, was asked how he avoided plot holes and character conflicts while writing his novel. “The idea is to have it shift between physical description, thought and action,” Giles said, a well-known writing hack called ‘modulation.’ Most viewers were pleased to see the interesting background writers brought to the session. Tobly McSmith, author of Stay Gold, introduced his cat Bam Bam, who was dressed up as a shark. That definitely brightened up all the cat moms in the comments section!
One would wonder how graphic novels live through a book read. Ask Hannah Templer (Cosmoknights, GLOW), Nick Tapalansky (A Radical Shift of Gravity) or Kate Glasheen (A Radical Shift of Gravity), who not only discussed themes and backgrounds stories of their novels but read panel-by-panel speech bubbles! Writer Joe Hill was joined by artist Gabriel Rodriguez and IDW editor Chris Ryall for a Locke & Key read, with each taking on different accents to fit their characters. “We’re like an old married couple, we finish each other’s sentences,” Hill talked about creative collaboration with Rodriguez. Ryall revealed a new coloring book in the works that will highlight Rodriguez’s illustrations for the novel in a re-purposed format.
As Read-A-Thon came to an end after almost eight hours, the BookCon team emphasized the importance of having bookstores to go back to once the global COVID-19 pandemic settles down, one of the session’s biggest takeaways.
Watch the rerun here!